Navigating the Teen Years

Learning about your teen’s world is a process, the more time you give to understanding it, the better you’ll be able to communicate with them.

Today's world is changing quickly, our children are generally exposed to much more than we were at their age.

Here are some suggestions to help you understand your teen's world:

  • Take the time to listen to the music your teen is listening to on the radio, the internet or on sites like iTunes or YouTube.  Listen for references to alcohol, drugs, or other risky behaviours. Then talk with your teen about what you’ve heard.
  • Visit the most popular social networking sites used by pre-teens and teens like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook and browse them to see what other teens are saying, what their interests are, and what they are doing online.
  • Can you name your teen’s favorite TV show? If not, just ask them what it is, then watch it with him or her and talk about it afterward.
  • Go to YouTube and type in “smoking weed.” Watch some of the videos. Did you know that your teen may be exposed to these images?
  • Use the DFK Drug Chart to find out what the drug slang terms “blazed,” “xanibars,” “a blunt” and “robotripping” really mean.
  • Type the name of your teen’s high school into the search bar of a social networking site like Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat and see what's happening.

Experience Teen Culture

Have you forgotten what it’s like to be a teen? Feel a little overwhelmed with today’s teen culture, including what’s happening on the internet? Want to know more about the influences and pressures your teen faces?

Dive into his or her world!

Here are a series of fun and easy things you can do to get a little more in tune with teen culture today.  Think of them as “expeditions” into teen life. Do as many or as few as you'd like, but try at least one.

  • Attend a sporting, art, or other events at your child’s school. Notice how your child interacts with his friends and pay close attention to how other teens his or her age act: what they talk about, what they wear, and how they behave in general.
  • Get a list of the most popular teen movies and watch them with or without your teen. Count the references to drugs or alcohol, violence, and other risky behaviors. Take note of the kinds of peer pressure teens might be facing and talk about these observations with your teen.
  • Visit a social bookmarking site and see how teens may be discovering and sharing content. See if these kinds of sites have been bookmarked on your computer, and check them out. Take a look at other sites your teen may have bookmarked on the computer that you’re not familiar with.
  • Flip through some teen magazines, such as CosmoGirl or Seventeen or Skateboarding or Thrasher. What types of references do you notice about body image and sex? How do they deal with issues of drugs and alcohol use? Do you think your teen could be pressured by these kinds of popular references?
  • Ask your teen to show you the photos or listen to the music he/she has taken or downloaded onto their smartphone. Discuss the content. Is there anything you are surprised by and should talk about?
  • We encourage you to share what you have learned with other parents whenever possible. Not only do you have an opportunity to share your own findings, but you can learn from other parents about what insights they may have gained by doing the things listed above.

Ready for a talk with your pre-teen or teen?

Check out these pages to find out more about communicating with your teen!

The Importance of Communication 

Having the drug conversation with your child (with suggested conversations!)

How to talk to your kids about drugs if you've done drugs

Getting Past the Fear

Having conversation about drugs with the whole family

Helping a kid who is not your own